App Links update: 3B+ unique URLs since April, launch of analytics and blog

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Facebook’s App Links product — aimed at helping people go straight from a News Feed post or ad into an app — has been fairly popular so far. The company announced Thursday an analytics suite, better support for Windows Phone and a blog for news about the technology.

So far, hundreds of apps such as Spotify, Hulu and Airbnb have used App Links to create more than 3 billion unique URLs.

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The Facebook marketing free ride is over

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If you want to grow your business through Facebook marketing, you will very likely have to pay for advertising.

That is the new truth.

In years past, many pages on Facebook could do all right in terms of driving sales and traffic to websites without using advertising. But now, as more pages become serious Facebook marketers, you’re battling for diminishing space in your audience’s News Feeds. Demand for impressions, views and clicks is higher than ever, while the supply of News Feed space hasn’t grown to keep up.

So while Facebook is financially free if you want to chat with friends and look at cat memes, if you are using Facebook as a tool to grow your business, advertising needs to be part of the plan.

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Facebook launches cross-device reporting for ads

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Facebook continues to make strides in becoming the “cross-platform platform,” as today the company announced a way to track performance of advertising across devices. This will enable advertisers to see how people are balancing desktop, mobile and tablet before they make a conversion.

Through this cross-device reporting, advertisers can see how different devices influenced a website conversion and mobile app actions, as well as the value of the website conversion. According to a recent study by Altimeter, more than 60 percent of U.S. adults use at least two devices daily, and more than 40 percent sometimes start an activity, like shopping, on one device and convert on another device.

Facebook blogged about this new capability:

Imagine seeing an ad for a product on your mobile phone while in line at the bank. Do you immediately make a purchase on your phone? Probably not. But perhaps you go back to your office later that day and buy on your desktop computer. Such cross-device conversions are becoming increasingly common as people move between their phones, tablets and desktop computers to interact with businesses.

Facebook already offers targeting, delivery and conversion measurement across devices. With the new cross-device report, advertisers are now able to view the devices on which people see ads and the devices on which conversions subsequently occur. For instance, a marketer can view the number of customers that clicked an ad on an iPhone but then later converted on desktop, or the number of people that saw an ad on desktop but then converted on an Android tablet.

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Why does Facebook Messenger require so much data?

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As Facebook is unbundling its Facebook Messenger capabilities, turning off messages within the main app, reaction from users has been swift and negative.

Much of the paranoia is fueled by a Huffington Post story from November 2013, as well as a post by a radio station in Houston — both written to stoke fear within Facebook users.

While Facebook Messenger on Android does ask for several permissions that seem privacy-invasive, these actions cannot happen without manual user action. Facebook Messenger will not call people on your behalf or alter your network for Mark Zuckerberg’s benefit.

So why does it all seem so invasive? Mashable has an amazing post breaking down every single permission the Messenger app asks for, explaining why the app needs them.

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What can the Facebook ad platform do for small businesses?

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Facebook has been going around the country, speaking with small business owners about ways to grow through the social network at Facebook Fit events. One of the most important figures, in terms of advertising for small businesses, is Facebook’s Director of Small Business — Dan Levy.

Levy talked with the 350-plus people on hand about what Facebook has to offer as not only an advertising channel, but a direct response option. Last year, Levy talked with Inside Facebook about how the small business segment is rapidly growing. Now that there are 30 million active small businesses with a page on Facebook, we caught up with Levy again to explore what’s next for advertisers.

Inside Facebook: Can you talk about how you feel the Facebook Fit events have gone so far?

Dan Levy: It’s been wonderful. We’ve always worked with lots of clients and small business owners, but to be able to put real human faces behind the numbers and human stories has been really helpful for us and really helpful for the business owners as well — to see that there’s real people at Facebook who care about their business and want them to succeed.

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Facebook for Windows Phone gets a major update

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Though iOS and Android are the predominant homes for Facebook on mobile, the Windows Phone is also a force for mobile users. On Monday, the Windows Phone app got a facelift.

This update brings into the main app features that were previously only available in beta, such as the ability to upload videos taken on the phone directly from the app. The app also supports more languages, as well as integration with Facebook Messenger.

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Facebook launches Internet.org app in Zambia

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The Internet.org movement now has a mobile presence. Facebook announced Thursday that the Internet.org app is available to those in the landlocked southern African country of Zambia.

Through this app, Airtel customers in Zambia can access these apps:

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Facebook’s end goal: To be the cross-platform platform

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Facebook is making its pitch to games developers: to survive you need to be cross-platform. To be effectively cross-platform, you need to dance with Facebook.

While Facebook celebrated another successful quarter last week, there was a little bit of troubling news about the future of the company’s games economy. Chief Financial Officer Dave Wehner summed up Facebook’s games dilemma in the quarterly earnings call:

Our current games payment revenue comes entirely from desktop usage and we are seeing declines in the number of people using Facebook on desktop, a trend that will make growing this business challenging going forward.

So at Casual Connect in San Francisco, Facebook made its sales pitch to game developers from all over the world: go mobile with us.

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Facebook’s future looks bright: video, Audience Network and mobile are keys

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Facebook is knocking on the door of bringing in $3 billion in a single quarter — and that might just be a stepping stone.

The company announced Wednesday that Q2 was its highest-performance quarter to date, with revenues of $2.9 billion and worldwide growth in revenue-per-user. They’re just getting started.

Much of Facebook’s economic growth of late has come from mobile. The highly-touted mobile app install ad has led to more than 350 million app installs, and the ad format is moving beyond games and into retailers and consumer packaged goods verticals. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that U.S. users spend an average of 40 minutes per day (including 1 of 5 minutes on mobile), but he wants a bigger slice of the digital media pie.

Mobile now accounts for 62 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue, and that figure could rise in the next couple years as Facebook develops more relevant and targeted video ads in concert with Audience Network — both of which are still in their infancies.

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The Buy button — Facebook’s next big thing?

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Facebook is testing a way for advertisers to make the direct sales pitch to people, and it could be a game-changer for advertisers and retailers. Through the Buy button, users can complete a transaction while staying in Facebook.

Marketers are already excited about the possibilities. Among the call to action buttons, the one closest to the bottom of the funnel has been Shop Now or Buy Now, prompting the user to finish a transaction on the external website. Even if someone doesn’t complete the transaction after clicking Buy, advertisers can know that the user is interested in making a purchase of that particular product, and they can target them with ads for that specific item.

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